When we met Jaz Potter at the last weekend away, we were all inspired to get the pens and pencils out and get creative. She sketched, coloured, inscribed and doodled her way through each session, producing an end result which was not only beautiful, it helped her – and many others – remember the message and interact with the Word of God.
As she goes on to tell us in this inspirational article, her affinity for art materials and a notebook is more than a passing ‘mindful’ (or mind-numbing) craze. When life hurt, Jaz turned to Instagram and her ‘doodle a day’ for ‘a way to keep connected to the one who sustains me’. Read on, as Jaz reveals how the simple act of putting pen to paper in a more creative way could be a lifeline for you, too.
God and creativity were together in the beginning. In Genesis chapter 1, God created everything. When he created us we were made in His image. Just like Him we were made to be creative.
Doodling and colouring are a current trend; chalkboard writing and fancy scripts are certainly having a revival. For me, there is nothing more wonderful than making marks on a page and seeing an image come together. I find the process therapeutic, relaxing and it feels as though the Holy Spirit takes over and helps me to absorb more of what God is saying to me. For some, music connects them to God, for others, it may be drama, a piece of prose or some other wonderful creative outlet or craft. Whatever it is, it comes from the heart of our creative Father God.
I was 12 years old when I realised that Jesus was real, not just a ‘Father Christmas’ story, but someone that I could know, worship and enjoy a relationship with. I had become a Christian from a strict Sikh background and I didn’t know much about being a Christian. However, having encountered Jesus and crossed the line of faith, I felt like I had gone from living in black and white to glorious technicolor.
Over the years I was encouraged to search deep into the bible, use daily bible notes and spend long lengths of time in prayer. I tried. I really tried. My faith was sincere and I was eager to please. I started many reading plans and prayer prompts but they always fell by the wayside. I got bored too easily. This used to upset me because Jesus is far from boring.
Over time I have found incredible ways to meet with Jesus. I have realised that there is no formula of connecting with God that fits everybody. There are moments when I find it easier to encounter Jesus in my car. It seems to be the only place I can get time on my own! However, the one thing that has consistently helped me connect with Jesus, since I became a Christian, was my doodling. It began when I started taking notes during sermons. I would just doodle words that seemed significant or little pictures that came to mind. It brought each message to life and it helped me to remember.
I started by saying that we are all creative, but I often hear people say they can’t draw or paint or do nice lettering. But I have found that it isn’t about the finished piece, but rather the journey you take to get there. It’s about making marks on the paper in response to what you hear, see or feel. It doesn’t have to be perfect, beautiful, colourful or accurate. But as you make those marks, and the creative juices flow, you find yourself encountering Jesus in a whole new wonderful dimension.
When I first started doodling, it was with my trusty blue biro, scribbling in the margins. These days I usually carry a full pencil case which includes fancy pens, colours, pastels and inks. I nearly always have an A5 notebook and as soon as the speaker starts speaking, I whip these out and away I go.
Not only do I doodle during sermons or at conferences, I have also used it in my ‘quiet time’. At the end of 2016, my beautiful 43-year-old husband was diagnosed with a very rare cancer (pseudo myxoma). My life went pear-shaped as I took in this news and became the filling in the family sandwich. I became the point of support between the generations; for our two teenagers with special needs and for our ageing parents. From all of this and still working full time, life quickly became overwhelming. So to keep myself connected to the one who sustains me, I decided to do a ‘doodle a day’ and post it on Instagram. The act of making it public keeps me accountable; I know it speaks to others and it keeps me in a conversation with my creator. For a few month, it was all I could manage and it was enough to keep me going. It isn’t over yet and my husband is still facing a huge battle ahead. And while I still have some low days, I know that getting out my colours lifts my spirit. It works for me.
Social media has of course helped people follow this explosion of creativity. My favourites are on Instagram and Pinterest. Just hashtag bible doodling, or bible quotes and plenty of images will come up. You can easily be lost for many wonderful hours as you enjoy inspiration from all over the globe. When I see it all it makes me want to praise Jesus.
If you have never had a go, try it. Your first few attempts probably won’t be amazing, but keep doing it. You might just connect with God in a way that you have never experienced before.
See you on Instagram!